TEC Tackle, New Client Nonstarter, and a Writing Reconnection

Team Sports have never been my thing and I’ve never been able to understand American football in my life. It seemed to me that the rules of that game were always changing. But it felt particularly apt this week.TEC has taken the decision to do the sales themselves and not pay outside people to do it. I still have scheduling work that I do for them, but it was a significant portion of my income. I am cynical enough that while I think that they claim that it’s bad sales, I feel like they’re looking for an excuse to reduce their staff and their cost. But they have also rolled back their prices to the customer as well. The scheduling work this week however was quite plentiful with some intensives that needed to be scheduled as well as new students that also needed to be placed. But that could change next week. What’s been a challenge is trying to get rooms booked as one of the locations that we use is often not available when we need it. And I am finding that this is increasing across all of the locations that The English Center uses for their classes within Amsterdam. It’s become very difficult to book rooms on short notice. All of this does not make up for the fact that I will probably be working fewer hours for the English Center and I don’t have much to offset that in terms of clients both TEC and private.

I have two clients at TEC who are shortly going to finish up with me. I think one has five hours and the other has nine and a half. Flowently is my most consistent gig at the moment. The kicker is my private client world. A few weeks ago, I was approached by a client who wanted me to do lessons with a friend of hers at her office. I went on Thursday and had lessons with both of them. We had a wonderful lesson with my normal client. I met her friend and she also seemed to like the lesson. Over the weekend, I duly started prepping for everybody’s lessons so that I could be fully focused on prepping for the Imres lesson on Monday the 5th of June. On Sunday I got a text from the client with whom I had done two hours on Thursday and she said she was not going to be taking any more lessons. It was not a complete no as she said she wouldn’t have any lessons during the vacation time and would contact me after. But this leaves me with a time management dilemma. I do not want to travel out to the middle of nowhere just for three hours because it takes three hours to get there. I would have happily traveled there for five hours, however, and I accommodated these 5 hours by moving things off my schedule on Thursdays. Important things that I could have kept. One of which is a therapy session via Zoom in the States which is important to me. I was quite angry, but at least the other client is willing to go online. My Japanese client has about 14 hours left of her 68-hour package. Shinwei and I continue our lessons and I think we will continue for quite a while to come. So while it’s not all bad, my access to clients could certainly be better. And while I am making strides with that having written up a new text for my website as well as sending it to a translator, I have not yet started the campaigns for the website. But hopefully, I’ll be able to get some traction once the campaigns actually begin. Fingers crossed.

A bright spot for the week was being able to reconnect with my writing. While I wasn’t able to connect on Thursday, I was able to reconnect on Saturday and actually get some writing done during the day with some writer friends who meet sporadically on the weekends. It was just nice to sit in a place that had lovely views of the water and commune with people who are like-minded. I also was able to get a clearer picture of what I want to do with the novel and where I want to go with the next book because it looks like this is going to be a series. Nerys and her crew are by no means done.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Camera Commotion, Website Rewrite, and Writer’s Workshop

It has been quite a busy week here at Inkreaable, dear reader. In the run-up to yesterday, I was quite busy trying to plan all of my lessons through the next couple of weeks. By which I mean through the first week of June. I am having cataract surgery on June 2nd and I’m not sure how much I will be able to be online planning lessons for that first week. It will be enough trying to remember all the drops that I will need to take once again. Teaching-wise, it was quite a busy week as my Polish client and I met for five hours last week. We are scheduled to meet for another five hours this week. One of those lessons will be in person at her office. And it’s not just her but also a friend of hers who would like a couple of hours of lessons and then she’s going to see if she wants to continue. I hope she continues because it’s worth it for me. But if not my Polish client and I have agreed to go online. My Japanese client headed off to Japan on Sunday and we had a lesson online yesterday morning. She’ll be away for a month and that means that we will only have a few lessons when she comes back at the end of June, in order to complete her package. I think she is done on the 11th of July unless something else happens. This past week she called out sick and so I had to push her lesson to the end of the package.

This week we also started an experiment at Inkreadable, whose concept has changed over time to include English language lessons. I concentrate both on general English and business English but have decided to add a third lesson type to the roster: lessons on the go. As the name suggests this will be a lesson at a location in Amsterdam like an art museum or other tourist attraction where we work on both functional language such as asking for tickets as well as vocabulary building using the exhibit around us. Eventually, the plan is to adapt that for children as well but only if there is interest over time. It was interesting trying to walk around the city and take a video at the same time. I did this with my student Shinwei, and Jasper, who acted as the cameraman for part of it. We went to an exhibition called Van Gogh meets Rembrandt which is a juxtaposition of Van Gogh’s paintings and Rembrandt’s paintings projected onto the walls of the Noorderkerk. Jasper himself was not impressed and let us know shortly after we exited the exhibition. But I did get some interesting videos and when I was doing the videography the sound quality was quite clear. We weren’t able to get as clear of quality with Jasper’s camera because he was probably picking up quite a few sounds around him as well as the fact that he was walking backward slowly and was about a foot and a half away from us. We came to the conclusion that we would probably need to buy a microphone package and a decent set of video editing software. Luckily my student from Japan is going to help me when she gets back. Anything has to be better than Jasper trying to walk backward and film at the same time. It’s going to be a complicated endeavor for me as I am not particularly tech-savvy and I don’t do very well in front of the camera. But I sent her some videos and maybe she will be able to splice them together or tell me how to splice them together so that we can make a reasonable film. It will be interesting to see if it works.

In a bit to get more clients from my website, I have been working on the content of my website to better fit the search parameters that will get me noticed by people. To that end, I spent Sunday trying to rewrite my content to give a better idea of what I am trying to achieve both for adults and kids. I spent about three hours editing the pages to a standard that WordPress will consider them “good”. Whether it has any effect on my business will be felt when we actually start advertising the website on Google. I sent a message to the translator to find out if she could give me another quote on the new website as there may be more words to translate and also the words that I was hoping to hit in the translation. As of this writing, I have not heard anything, but I did not expect to as she is involved in a big translation project that will take up most of her week. That means that the earliest I can expect to hear anything would be over the weekend at the earliest.

This week the writer’s group met at my house. We switched things up, quite literally, as we had drinks and conversation first and then writing. Over the weekend, several of the existing members of the group (some of which I’ve only ever seen once) splintered to form their own writer’s workshop group that will meet in-person and online. I will be intrigued to see how it turns out, but am not sure that I myself have the space to do another writing workshop. I will be living vicariously through the other members that’s for certain.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Planning Powerhouse, Train (station) trauma, Website Woes, and a Writer’s Group “Rager”

There’s a lot to talk about here at Inkreadable, dear reader, as you may have guessed from the title. It’s been a good week in terms of planning as I was able to plan through Sunday of this week. That meant that over the weekend I could spend a Saturday relaxing and then Sunday got back into planning but planning for the week of the 22nd. It’s been a little bit fraught in terms of planning because I now have a private client that I see almost every day in fact it’s a 7-hour-a-week commitment from them. I managed to get the Polish client in Den Haag to commit to an hour a day online Monday through Wednesday and Friday. We will meet in person on a Thursday. She also got me a second client on a Thursday to come to her office. That is certainly well worth it as they are paying for my travel and my rate of 55 euros an hour. The other client is a beginner but I have not yet tested her or talked to her to be able to get a sense of where she is. And Evelina was not sure herself. Yesterday I asked Evelina if she would give me her friend’s email and I sent her a proposal. I also had my last lesson of the current package with Shinwei and he renewed it with me.

But commuting out for the in-company is not all it’s cracked up to be. There hasn’t been a week in the last two that there hasn’t been some problem. Aside from the tea spilling incident, all of my issues have been transport-related. Luckily none of them have been learning issues. Last week, I managed to get a ride to the station because one of my students lives that way and has said that I will get a ride with her to the extent that she is in the class. But once I got to the station the fun began. I tapped myself into the platform. Only to see a Phalanx of police officers rushing by me. Going the opposite direction, coming down the stairs was an employee of the train company who physically turned me around physically to get me out of the station. Fortunately, I have enough Dutch to understand that and he explained as well that there was a man with a knife upstairs on the platform. We were told that we needed to exit the station and that we needed to go across the street as well. With no idea how long it would take for me to get home I gave a call to Jasper to let him know that I had no idea what time I was going to be there. It ended up only being about 10 minutes of waiting and then we were told we could go back up. I still got home at about 8:15 which would have been the time that I had gotten home anyway. But, man, never a dull moment in Lelystad. Well, until yesterday. Yesterday, at last, was uneventful.

I have been spending some time on my website over the last few weeks. What I’m trying to do is get enough content on my website so that the words for English lesson, English teacher, and business English are prominent and then I have engaged a translator to translate my whole website into Dutch. Once that happens I am going to run a campaign to see if I can get a bit more business of my own. Right now what I focus on is business English and general English for adults and children. I’m also going to try and do some lessons on the go for both adults and children where we go to a museum or an attraction and we learn vocabulary words that are appropriate for that attraction. I’m not sure if it will work but my English teacher buddies have assured me that that’s a great idea. If only I could get the people who host my website to get on the ball and change my rates so that I can start advertising that would be key. One of the ongoing explorations is to find out if I can get the most current post of my blog to post to the website and update it automatically each week. Theoretically, it should be possible but Jasper and I were not able to figure out how to do that over the weekend. It is enough that I have started fixing the SEO content issues for my website. But it is a job and it is quite difficult because that is not my strong suit.

This week saw one of the biggest attendances of the book club in recent months. We were 13 people in total and that may not sound like a big number, but we sit at a rectangular table. There is a second rectangular table there that we sometimes can use but it’s often taken by another group. This week that was indeed the case. But as we got bigger my enterprising group managed to connect the two tables by adding a round table in between them and we slowly started encroaching on the other group. And while it wasn’t a rager in the Animal House sense, we did get quite a bit of work done and we got some interest from our neighbors at the table which is always nice. My own non-writing streak continues as I seem to be using my writer’s group just to plan my lessons but it’s a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the weekend a bit more.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Incompany Induction and Commemoration Day Confusion

Last week and yesterday, dear reader, was a good indication of how in-company courses should go. The previous Monday had not gone as planned as I managed to spill coffee on someone in the classroom. It was rather nerve-wracking. It was unfortunately the student that I was worried about because their level was far too low for the class. And as it proved over the course of the week I got an email from the student saying that she was going to stop and try to get an easier class. I am letting Flowently deal with that as it’s not my purview to manage all of that. Just as I would have English Centered deal with it if it was a group class that wasn’t working out. Once I got over my angst about being in a company versus in a classroom, everything was familiar. After all, they’re just people with the same quirks as other people. And teaching is nothing more than connecting with the people that you’re teaching and listening to their needs.

I found that homework is a great way for me to get a sense of how my students think as well as how they write. I noticed that they all had a couple of things in common as I was going through their homework. The first is they all do a lot better than they think they do. But they all make some very common mistakes. My students seem to confuse using the present, the past, and the present progressive when writing about their jobs. So yesterday I started the class off with a 10-minute intro into the difference between the tenses and how we use them in a business context. I also worked on the conversation questions at the back of the first two chapters that I assigned for homework. In the second class, we did more idioms, and thankfully I have found a website with 172 business idioms so I’m just going to use them through the rest of the course. As per my students’ request, I worked on useful phrases for emails and how to improve their syntax. In order to start preparing my students for their presentation we also watched a presentation and discussed the elements that make it a good presentation. I also left some time for them to give me their feedback so that I can shift my lesson prep as much as I can so that everything that they want to cover is accounted for.

This past Thursday was the fourth of May which is the commemoration of the people who died in World War Two in the Netherlands. There are speeches and moments of Silence at eight o’clock. I knew this, dear reader, but I somehow thought that it was not a national holiday and that the library would be open. At 3:30 on Thursday, I was in the center of town going to a bookstore and I noticed that there was an increased police presence and that all of the arteries into the main square of Amsterdam were closed off to both pedestrians and vehicles. I had the foresight to check and see if the library was open and I’m glad that I did because the library actually closed at 6 so I sent a flurry of messages on WhatsApp to the writers’ group telling them to come to my house. And then I ran home as quick as I could and tried to get snacks for people. I’ve been here six years and I should always remember that the month of May has a lot of National Holidays that I need to be aware of in case the library closes so that we make a plan. Mark and I agreed that that should be so but it was very interesting trying to get 12 people into my house. I’ve done it before and it’s not the most comfortable experience in the world, as I just don’t have enough space. And I’ll have to repeat it next week as well as the 18th of May is the feast of the Ascension and is a national holiday in the Netherlands. I find it very funny that most of the National Holidays in the Netherlands are religious in nature as the next May holiday is Whitsunday and Monday and those are also National Holidays. I think the best idea is to try and plan the year in advance so that for any holiday that falls on a Thursday the writers’ group just ends up at my house.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

Restless Return, Pressing Preparation, and a King’s Day Cancellation

Greetings, deer reader, from not-so-sunny Amsterdam. I spent the weekend trying to get out from under the chaos that happens at my house when I go away and Jasper is left on his own. You might think it’s not such a big deal but it very much is and I spent all of Saturday just trying to get the house back into a state that I could handle. On Sunday I was able to do two things that I wanted: the first was I was able to finish up with my plants and I now have 13 pots planted in my house. That is the sum total of pots that I had so my spring organization is almost finished. What remains is to take care of my balcony with its lovely canal view. The other thing that I had to do on Sunday was start preparing for the in-company with Imres.

I had actually started preparing for the course on Friday when I had a meeting with my friend Krys who also works for TEC and Flowently. She showed me the slides that she made for her in-company courses and I started to panic. I am technically savvy in some ways but not technically savvy in others. Where I struggle is to make slides that look nice and professional and how to animate those slides as well. I decided on Sunday after I struggled for about an hour trying to animate something that I was going to get the content on the slides and plan the lesson and then try to add the bells and whistles later if I could. I managed to plan the first half of the lesson for the first of May. I completed that lesson yesterday. Given that it’s probably going to take me about two days per class that means 24 days of actual lesson prep which means I should be finished with the last lesson after class number four. I’m trying to make lessons for multiple companies and so I’m keeping the slides fairly general. For the first lesson, I planned an introduction round, an icebreaker activity, followed by 10 business idioms divided into two slides and then asking questions using the idioms. Yesterday I decided that the second half of the class after a five-minute break would be the difference between formal English and informal English with a focus on writing emails. And then perhaps a video where the students analyze what the presenter does right and what the presenter does wrong. Followed finally, by a list of Tina’s tips for email writing. And since I’m using the business English handbook advanced, I’m going to assign homework from the book. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this format for the whole time but at least it’s a start. I am also going to open up the field to the students themselves to invite their feedback as to the types of things that they’d like to see in the classroom. I am also going to tell them that they each have to do a presentation in the class as well, and that will start in week 3.

Focusing so much on the preparation for Imres wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t done all of my weekly stuff for the English Center and my private clients the week before. If I can maintain the momentum then it’s okay and I’ll be able to focus just on Imres during the week. It helps that Alessandro and I will be finishing our courses this coming Friday so I will have a little bit more time. What’s also good is that Jean is traveling again and so I won’t be seeing him until probably two weeks from now. In addition, I have already prepared my Japanese client’s lessons through May 2 and my client in The Hague as well. So if I can keep this momentum then I can keep my time management terror to a minimum.

This week, dear readers, is King’s Day in the Netherlands and what that means is that everybody goes ape s*** crazy and wears Orange on the 27th of April in celebration of the King’s birthday. It’s a fun (and funny) holiday because you walk around and people sell their old stuff on the street. I once saw a single shoe for sale, apparently, the mate had gone missing. It was a vintage shoe, however, so maybe someone actually picked it up a. Because King’s Day is considered a national holiday, the library is closed. So I had to cancel our writers’ group on Thursday evening. That kind of suits me fine because I can continue planning lessons for Imres instead of writing. It’s also nice because my Japanese client and I are doing a lesson on the go so I have planned some information about King’s Day and then we’re going to walk around the city and she’s going to use her English.

What would be amazing, dear reader, is if I could stop second-guessing my planning and prepping and just let myself think that everything is going to be fine in terms of Imres. But the bright side is that I’m trying to use the anxiety to up my game and make interesting lessons that my students will like. After all, I have been passively aggressively told that I am an old-fashioned teacher, that I lack self-awareness, and that I am very negative with some students. I don’t really believe some of those things but in the interest of making sure that they aren’t true, listening to my students is the best way to do that.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Reliable Routine,Intensive Inducement, and Greek (teacher) Greetings

It has been, dear reader, a fairly uneventful week in Greece. I have been able to spend a couple of hours a day doing English Center administrative work and I’ve largely been able to keep up with everything. In terms of teaching, it’s been fairly consistent. I’ve only had Shinwei and my Japanese client of my private clients and in terms of The English Center, it’s only been Alessandro with pronunciation. Heleen and Jean continue to be absent from my schedule and I cannot seem to pin them down for lessons. Heleen has been changing lessons and we will now be meeting on the 26th of April. As it is, the 26th is a change from the 20th of April which is a change from the 13th of April so as you can see Heleen tends to be quite flighty in her scheduling. I also have not seen the hide or hair of Jean as he is traveling. He has let me know that he would like some lessons this coming week but as of this writing I have not heard from him so I am not sure that I’m going to be able to give him a lesson when he wants.

In terms of the admin that I do for the English center, midweek was a little bit touch and go for me as I was not able to do anything right. I kept sending out emails with the wrong information. I hate when I do that. I hate that because someone will always catch the mistake before I will and send me a passive-aggressive email. It’s not a fun situation in which to work. But I have to put up with it because, of course, there’s money involved. Admittedly, it’s particularly bad because I know I am in the wrong and that makes it even more difficult. As much as I try to do everything perfectly there are simply some mistakes that I just don’t catch. It’s a very stressful situation when whatever you’re doing takes you twice as long because you’re worried that it’s not absolutely perfect. But I find the routine to be relaxing and so it gives me a bit of structure for the day.

I hadn’t heard anything from Flowently about the in-company lessons until late last week. It’s for a pharmaceutical company that has its headquarters just outside of Lelystad. It’s about a two-hour commute each way if I was to take public transport to the office. It turned out that the company wanted an hour and a half on a Monday afternoon. I told Flowently that I was not going to be able to work for just an hour and a half as I feel that an hour and a half is just not enough time to give a quality lesson. Instead, I told the owner that it would be better if it was two hours or more. She didn’t think that the company was going to do that. I told her to keep me in mind for anything else that came across, especially in Amsterdam. On Friday this past week, she got back to me and said that they were willing to do two hours and asked if I was willing to teach for them. She said that the price was going to be 60 euros an hour which is ten euros more than they normally pay. I have agreed. If you amortize the 120 euros it ends up being about 20 euros an hour. Which sucks. But I look at it this way, it is a new experience doing in-company lessons, which The English Center will never give me. So from the first of May until the 17th of July, I’ll be going to Lelystad and teaching business English to a group of eight people. It’ll be interesting to be in an in-person classroom group class again.

The other notable happening of the trip is that I met my student Odhran’s other Greek teacher. He lives in Chania and we met for a coffee yesterday. It was very difficult because he doesn’t know that I was actually the first Greek teacher Odhran had. He works at Elinopoula which is the school that I went to and got to meet the staff when I was in Athens in January. I played it like I was just a family friend who just did conversational Greek with Odhran but really we have proper lessons where I learned to teach him concepts, at least to the best of my ability in Greek given that my own Greek isn’t great. I’m grateful to know that Odhran is actually still doing at least the Greek platform even if he’s not with me at the moment. He is up keeping the language which I find gratifying.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

Breathtaking Breakthrough, Book BS, and an Interesting Interview

This week at Inkreadable, dear reader, was the stuff of teaching legend. At least for me. It’s not often that I get to really see the progress of my students because they are mostly high level and the jump in higher levels is much smaller than from low to high. But this week I realized when my student went from a beginner level to an intermediate level. My Japanese client and I had been working on expressing regrets which are quite difficult using modal verbs, the expression I wish, and the expression I regret. She was able to express the things that she regretted easily and fluently. Of course, she’s all of 30 years old so she doesn’t have that many regrets. This is the first time that I have felt that I have really accomplished something as a teacher with this client. These moments don’t happen often but when they do they make me marvel at the adaptability of people, and of course, the human brain. I had done a lesson with Shinwei about the human brain and people being able to change the way they think and the way they do things with ease. That the brain does accommodate change quite easily. And that age doesn’t matter, the brain can still learn. This was especially true of my Japanese client. Every once in a while people really do surprise you. And really it’s not because of my teaching it’s because of my students’ motivation and her willingness to learn.

I also got positive feedback from a client regarding my pronunciation lessons with him. He is Italian but the galvanized me enough to design a pronunciation course (specifically for Dutch students at the moment) but this lesson can be adapted for various languages. Most languages do not have a th like in then or a th like in thin. So that is something that can be adapted to nearly all pronunciation lessons. If I start getting more clients for pronunciation then I will just adapt the template that I have into something that can work for multiple languages. It’s been an interesting weekend trying to do that work.

There weren’t many highlights on the English Center administration track this week. I continually do the things that the English Center sends me and I continually try to keep up with the things that I set myself. I got a little behind on Friday but that’s okay because I spent the day catching up yesterday. The only hiccup with the English Center currently is that we are still expecting three books for the group course that we are teaching to Ukrainian refugees. I got an email from the bookstore that that book will probably not come in at all. I sent the email to the English Center and yesterday we tried to figure out what to do. They wanted me to try and get the books but if they’re not printing the books how do we get them? I was a little bit flummoxed. The solution we came up with was to try and get a slightly higher-level book in the series. I have a telephone later today to see if I can sort this out with Waterstones.

I do not have any experience doing in-company courses with the English center at all. I’m not sure if that’s because they simply don’t have enough or because they don’t feel that my skill is good enough for in-company. I suspect given what they think of me that that might in fact be the case. One of my friends who I actually recommended to the English Center did me a – likewise good turn and recommended me for Flowently and their in-company courses. I had a wonderful meeting with the owner of Flowently and we seemed to click quite well. We talked about the differences in education and teaching in the Netherlands and what I think the educational system is like. She opened my eyes to quite a few things, especially with regard to her grandchildren who are Primary School age. It was a very interesting meeting and the job that she would like to hire me for also sounds kind of interesting. She would like me to do an in-company for a business in a city called Lelystad. If the company accepts the proposal, the lessons would start on the 25th of April and go on Tuesday afternoons for 15 weeks. That means that I would be commuting three hours a week to go out to these lessons. It’s not terrible. I would still get home at 7:30 or so. The pay is decent as it’s about 50 euros an hour plus travel. Having said that I am not sure what to compare it to because I only have them as a reference. I don’t know what people make for in-company at the English center, however, I do know that the English Center pays for lesson prep and I don’t think that Flowently does. Fluently also has a tutoring side but I am not interested in that one because they only pay 25 Euros an hour to the teacher for in-person lessons. That’s lower even than the English center.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always there is more to come.

Teaching Tempered and Relaxing Write-In

With most of my students still out with colds and COVID, this week at Inkreadable in terms of teaching was quiet. It is picking up somewhat this week with everyone back on my schedule with the exception of my Polish client. She is taking a bit of time off post a visit to Asia. But I expect to see her sometime in the next couple of weeks. I was a little bit busier with administrative work this past week. I spent the weekend lesson planning for all of the students that are now back on my schedule as of yesterday. I also have a new student. He is an Italian student who wants pronunciation help and has signed up for a 12-hour course. I approached planning his first lesson as I do every other pronunciation client I’ve ever had and that is to go to Google and see what pronunciation mistakes speakers of Italian make. Google is quite good for that, and if you simply Google the words pronunciation mistakes and the language of origin it’ll come up with a whole host of things. It took me about 30 minutes to plan an hour lesson. The rest of the week was quite easy as I already had lessons planned for almost everyone since I hadn’t been able to give the lessons while my students were sick. I was able to plan almost the whole week on Saturday. George and Jerry this week were a bit of a challenge as I did a lesson on Marvel Studios and they really struggled with the vocabulary. It also didn’t help that for some reason zoom has decided that it doesn’t want to load when I screen share very quickly. This was more apparent with George’s class than with Jerry as I think they are using different tech. Toward the end of the half-hour with George, none of the lessons were working and we just had to have a conversation which is never easy with him because I sometimes have a hard time understanding him. In addition, he tries to get a little bit cheeky and tries to make my life difficult just for a battle of it.

Last week, dear reader, I told you how scary it was at my writers’ group last week. This week proved to be much calmer as the gentleman who came and wouldn’t stop talking did not show up. But I did notice that instead of being a 5-star meet up we are now a 4 and 3-quarters-star meet up so someone has given us a bad review. And while that makes me sad, I am not going to go looking for the review and see who actually didn’t like us. I actually got a bit of writing done on Thursday which was great but it was nowhere near my colleagues who were all writing thousand-word and up workouts. Still, I was pretty pleased with my own production, even if it wasn’t either quality or quantity. It was very nice not to feel like there were people of questionable mental health having a conversation largely with themselves at the table. There were a couple of new faces but it was mostly familiar faces. I even managed to find the energy to go out afterward to have a drink. What remains a challenge is writing at times that are not Thursdays.

I’m sorry that this week’s blog post is so short, but I’m not the type of writer to make stuff up if there is nothing to say. So that’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. There’s always there is more to come.

Student Sickness, Terrifying Thursday and Weekend Write-in

It has been an extremely quiet week here at Inkreadablle. I have been a little busy with English Center administrative work but the clients have all fallen ill. As I only have two clients and both of them canceled lessons for the week, that meant that I could concentrate on my private clients. I have scheduled Shinwei for Friday evenings when he comes to me and I give a lesson. Then we have dinner. That will change in April as he will go back to Taiwan for a month and so we will go online. That suits me quite well as I will be in Greece for 10 days in April from the 10th until the 21st for the Greek Easter holiday. My Japanese client has also agreed to go online and so I will give her four online lessons. I am going to have to cancel George and Jerry on Easter Sunday as there will be no possibility of giving a lesson that day.

My students being sick, meant that this week wass off to a very slow start as neither Jean or Helene have let me know when they want to come back for a lesson. In addition on Saturday, I realized that this weekend is daylight savings time in the US which means that a couple of appointments that I have in the US will be an hour earlier for me as we don’t change until the end of the month. That meant that I had to ask my Japanese client if we could make it earlier on Thursday. At this point, that meeting is up in the air because she is currently also ill with a fever and we canceled Tuesday’s lesson. I’m not too upset about any of this because I can always find the time to write.

This week’s session at the library was one of the scariest I have ever experienced in my life. I do not scare easily and generally, I can deal with writer weird. But this week a young man walked into the library and up to our table and didn’t stop talking until he left. Generally, I ignored him but then I started listening to a little bit of what he was saying and all he talked about was how horrible his education was, how he felt duped by all the teachers in Ireland and the upper class. I’ve heard this stuff before so I was able to turn it out until he started referring to women as females and I caught a drift of some of his incel ideology. He scared me so much, dear reader, that I didn’t get any writing done. I left the meeting at about 8 and as I was walking to the bathroom got a text from my co-organizer Mark, saying that the creepy guy had left and taken the elevator and suggested that I take the stairs. I decided to take the elevator but as I got downstairs to the lobby and exited the library, I thought I saw the guy who was hanging out outside having a smoke. Needless to say, I walked as quickly as I could to the tram stop that would take me home but I was literally looking over my shoulder the whole time. I didn’t actually feel safe until I was in my house with the door locked. I cannot deny this guy the library as it is a public space and I am very worried that he will come back. My writers’ group is the tribe that I chose and they generally have my back so I think it will be ok even if he does come back but he freaked me out quite a lot.

On Sunday I taught George and Jerry after a week away and then went to meet some writer friends. We met at the bookstore where we used to meet and I got a couple of hours of writing done. If I can maintain the schedule of writing on the weekends then perhaps writing on Thursdays will become a bit easier as well. On Thursday evenings I have a tendency to get distracted by the tasks that I didn’t complete for the English Centre during the week. We also talked about the creepy incel guy and they gave me the suggestion that if he comes tp the meeting again we make it a silent write-in, so that at least he won’t be able to talk. It’s not a bad suggestion, but I really just hope he doesn’t come back.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Flexibility Focus, Hastings Holiday, and (Group) Member Mix-ups

This week at Inkreadable shifted the focus from teaching to my ability to be flexible. I have had to ensure that I am fully available for several students who travel quite a lot. The first has been Jean who seems to go go to Brazil at least once a month. He has a business where he supplies jumbotron screens to advertisers. In that role, he is back and forth quite a lot and we have been on hiatus for this last week. We will make it up this week with two lessons and probably with two lessons the next week. This is fine, but it doesn’t leave me much time in the mornings for my Polish client who wants to do two hours a week. But she also needs flexibility because she travels quite a bit as well, albeit not for business. She has a partner who lives in Asia and she goes to see him quite frequently. It makes it a little bit difficult to plan lessons that are cohesive for her because we really do need to focus on her grammar. She also has a hard time remembering the differences between the tenses, and I’m not so good at explaining how to keep them in her head. It is indeed quite a challenge. But she’s a new client and I suspect that is going to take us some time to get her up to snuff. I have given my usual tips for using the language and as she lives in one of the Ra cities she should have some flexibility with finding people who speak English. In fairness, that is easy in the Netherlands, even outside the main cities. Everybody speaks some sort of English. Whether they speak good English or not is another debate entirely. But any language acquisition is better than no language acquisition. After two years with my beloved Odhran, we’re taking a break. I am not sure whether the break is indefinite or not. I have just told his mom to let me know when they are ready to begin again. I will be available but it makes me sad because if it is permanent, that’s two years that we’ve been working together. Admin work was relatively busy this week with a new Course starting for Ukrainian refugees that I had to facilitate with one other teacher. I also had to go to Amstelveen as well to grade the tests and put people into groups. It was extremely tiring trying to coordinate between the English Center and the people actually running the program but it got done. But flexibility cuts both ways and my students have also had to be flexible with me as well. That was particularly true this week as Jasper and I went to the south of England to celebrate our friend’s 50th birthday.

Our friends live in a town called Three Oaks which sounds like, and is in fact, in the middle of the countryside. But surprisingly, when I mentioned it to people in the Netherlands who are English they knew the town. Every single time that I mentioned it. My friends’ names are Colin and Caroline and they are absolutely lovely people who are very much into wine. We met about 10 years ago when I was living in Edinburgh and became fast friends very quickly. The bed and breakfast that we stayed in was quite lovely and is owned by a man who was the headmaster of a private school. The school has outposts in Africa and it’s reflected in the decor: the hotel is an eclectic mix of both old English style and African artifacts from the owner’s travels. But they were having staffing issues and I am not sure that they will be around if things don’t turn around. We also went to Hastings which, to be honest, was not the most interesting town, but at least we got to walk on the beach. We didn’t see any Normans, however. Sunday was spent recuperating from Saturday’s accesses. Jasper and I both took it easy. And then Colin and Caroline picked us up for a pub lunch in the country. It was a lovely weekend all around. The only dim spots on the weekend were not being able to figure out the trains as it wasn’t very clear how to transfer and there were very few people to ask. But we made it and going back yesterday was a little bit better.

I really dropped the ball this week with the writer’s group. I did not realize that on Meetup you can have an event chat and completely missed that one of the people coming for the writers’ group contacted the group on that forum and I only saw his message on Sunday. It was a message to say that he had arrived at the library. I immediately contacted him to apologize but as of this writing, he had not contacted me. In addition, I contacted Mark to let him know that we had missed a member. We have agreed to keep a better eye on the meetup responses in the future, but it cast a pall on Sunday as u felt horrid about it. We had one other new member show up but he was just a visitor as he is from Spain and was visiting friends in Amsterdam. He popped into the writer’s group but did not have anything to write with and so left soon after. It was an atypical week for writer’s group management and my writing suffered for it, as I didn’t get any writing done at all.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.